Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Mars has filed a lawsuit against US confectionery firm Hershey over its Malteser product, which it claims is "passing off" as Mars' own popular Maltesers brand.
Hershey: US firm has owned the trademark for Malteser since 1998
Hershey sells its Malteser chocolate-covered malt ball product in red packaging, having owned the trademark for ‘Malteser’ – without the "s" – since 1998, while Mars has sold its 75-year-old Maltesers brand in red packaging since 1978.
Mars, which never registered a trademark, claims the move is simply designed to prevent it from selling Maltesers in the US in competition with Hershey’s Whoppers brand, which are also milk chocolate-covered malt balls.
As a result, Mars has filed a complaint at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, seeking a "permanent injunction" against Hershey’s use of the Malteser mark, along with damages for lost profits.
Mars said in the lawsuit: "Hershey did not actually develop a unique product under the Malteser mark. Hershey sporadically passes off Whoppers candy as Malteser candy — selling Whoppers under the Malteser mark, without disclosing the switch to consumers — merely to reserve rights to the Malteser name."
A Hershey spokesman dismissed Mars’ claims as "without merit". He added: "The Hershey Co. has owned the Malteser trademark in the United States for more than 15 years. We intend to vigorously defend against this groundless litigation."
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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